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Rating Action:

Moody's upgrades ratings of three members of Austrian Raiffeisen Banking Group

03 Nov 2017

Action follows upgrade of RBI's long-term ratings and reassessment of sector support

Frankfurt am Main, November 03, 2017 -- Moody's Investors Service has today upgraded the ratings of three Raiffeisen banks and/or related group entities and affirmed the ratings on four Raiffeisen banks, which are part of the Raiffeisen Banking Group (RBG or 'the Group') based in Austria (Aa1 stable).

Among the actions taken today by Moody's on the affected banks are the following:

--- For three banks, Moody's upgraded by one notch the long-term bank deposit ratings, the long-term debt and/or issuer ratings, as applicable, and their long-term Counterparty Risk Assessments (CR Assessments)

--- For four banks, Moody's affirmed all ratings, i.e. their respective long-term bank deposit ratings, long-term debt and/or issuer ratings, as applicable, and their CR Assessments

--- For all of the seven banks involved in today's action, Moody's affirmed the short-term deposit and other short-term ratings, as applicable, along with their short-term CR Assessments

--- For two banks, Moody's upgraded the Baseline Credit Assessments (BCAs) by one notch, and affirmed the BCAs of the other five banks

--- For three banks, Moody's upgraded the Adjusted BCAs by one notch, and affirmed the Adjusted BCAs of the other four banks

Furthermore, Moody's has changed the outlook on the long-term ratings of one bank to stable from negative and, for the other six banks, maintained the stable outlooks. Moody's outlooks provide an opinion on the likely rating direction over the next 12 to 18 months.

The rating action reflects three key factors:

1) Stronger fundamentals and a more benign performance outlook for asset risk, capital and profits led to the BCA upgrades for the two largest member banks in the Group, Raiffeisen Bank International AG (RBI) and Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberoesterreich (RLB OOE).

2) Stronger fundamentals of the group as a whole led Moody's to raise its assessment of RBG's financial resilience and ability to render support, with positive implications for its assessment of cross-sector support. This factor resulted in Moody's raising the rating uplift for affiliate support for one bank.

3) Stronger cohesion within the Group following the inclusion of RBI as a direct member bank of the sector's federal Institutional Protection Scheme (IPS) earlier this year has resulted in Moody's reassessment of implications for individual member banks. Moody's believes that the contractual support scheme creates a reliable framework, which overall resulted in a closer alignment of banks' adjusted BCAs, providing more uplift for intrinsically weaker banks but limiting the ratings of intrinsically stronger banks.

Please click on this link http://www.moodys.com/viewresearchdoc.aspx?docid=PBC_197719 for the List of Affected Credit Ratings. This list is an integral part of this Press Release and identifies each affected issuer.

The report, "Issuer In-Depth: RBI's improved credit profile is positive for Austria's Raiffeisen sector", is now available on www.moodys.com. Moody's subscribers can access this report via this link: http://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1096355. The research is an update to the markets and does not constitute a rating action.

RATINGS RATIONALE

BCA UPGRADES FOR RBI AND RLB OOE REFLECT IMPROVED STANDALONE CREDIT PROFILES

Moody's upgraded the BCA of RBI to ba1 from ba2 and the BCA of RLB OOE to baa3 from ba1. Both BCA upgrades reflect Moody's assessment of the individual entities' improved solvency metrics, as illustrated by strengthened metrics for problem loans and capitalisation as of June 2017. In addition, prospects of sustainably stronger profitability for RBI not only indicates additional scope for capital generation and retention for RBI itself; the central institution's improved profitability outlook also raises the profitability prospects of RLB OOE as well as the other Raiffeisen Landesbanks which together hold 58.8% of RBI's equity.

The upgrade of RBI's BCA to ba1 reflects the bank's improving asset quality and capitalisation as well as the group's prospects of sustainably higher profitability. RBI's problem loans as a percentage of gross loans have improved to 7.3% at end-June 2017 from 8.7% in 2016 (pro forma). The disposal of problem loans, as well as the ongoing economic recovery in many CEE countries were key drivers for the improvement. Similarly, RBI's fully-loaded common equity tier 1 (CET1) capital ratio improved to 12.8% at end-June 2017 from 12.4% in 2016 (pro forma), as the inclusion of the bank's half-year profit more than offset higher risk-weighted assets. RBI's pre-tax profits increased to EUR849 million for the period January to June 2017 from EUR474 million (pro forma) for the same period in 2016, benefiting from rising revenues and lower credit costs.

The upgrade of RLB OOE's BCA to baa3 reflects improving credit metrics for asset risk and profitability, in particular the bank's sustained progress in reducing non-performing assets, and Moody's more favourable assessment of the bank's liquidity profile. RLB OOE's BCA remains constrained by its relatively large equity holdings which include its stake in RBI and also significant holdings in Austrian corporations, relative to the bank's capital.

BCA AFFIRMATIONS FOR FIVE RAIFFEISEN LANDESBANKS REFLECT STABLE PERFORMANCE

The affirmations of the BCAs of five regional Raiffeisen banks reflect Moody's assessment of their broadly stable fundamentals. Several of these banks show improving trends in asset risk and capital which is already appropriately captured by their respective BCA levels.

The affirmation of Raiffeisenlandesbank Niederoesterreich-Wien's (RLB NOE) ba2 BCA reflects that the bank's capitalisation, in absolute terms, shows signs of sustainable stabilisation after a period of capital erosion. Mildly improving regulatory capital ratios have benefitted from gradually reducing risk-weighted assets between 2014 and June 2017. Whilst RLB NOE reported considerably lower non-performing loans during the same period, its BCA remains constrained by its particularly large stake in RBI. As of year-end 2016, the book value of this stake was higher than the bank's Tangible Common Equity.

The affirmation of Raiffeisenverband Salzburg's (RVS) baa3 BCA and the change of the outlook on the bank's long-term ratings to stable from negative reflect the bank's gradually improving asset risk metrics and profitability prospects, combined with its satisfactory and relatively resilient capital metrics. RVS's risk profile remains constrained by its sizeable equity investments, including its stake in RBI.

The affirmation of Raiffeisen-Landesbank Steiermark AG's (RLB Steiermark) baa3 BCA incorporates the bank's improved capitalisation, the continued positive trend in its asset quality and improved prospects for profitability. However, these positive developments had already been factored into the bank's baa3 BCA when it was upgraded to the current level on 1 June 2017. RLB Steiermark's risk profile remains constrained by its concentrated equity investments, including its stake in RBI.

The affirmation of Raiffeisen-Landesbank Tirol AG's (RLB Tirol) baa3 BCA reflects the bank's broadly stable fundamental performance, underpinned by a positive development in the bank's asset quality, positioning the BCA more firmly in the baa3 category. RLB Tirol's risk profile, albeit improved, remains constrained by concentrated equity investments, in particular its stake in RBI.

The affirmation of Raiffeisenlandesbank Vorarlberg's (RLB Vorarlberg) baa3 BCA reflects the bank's solid fundamentals in the areas of asset risk and capitalisation. These strengths, combined with improved prospects for profitability in principle indicate potential for a BCA above the assigned baa3. At the same time, however, RLB Vorarlberg's BCA remains constrained by the sizeable equity investments, including its stake in RBI, and the high degree of correlation within the sector resulting from the very high mutualist support commitment.

MOODY'S RAISES ITS ASSESSMENT OF RBG'S CREDIT STRENGTH

As part of today's action, Moody's has reassessed the Austrian Raiffeisen sector's credit profile, based on the co-operative group's combined financial strength. This assessment resulted in a more positive view than previously held on RBG's combined strength and financial flexibility. Moody's more favourable assessment takes into account RBG's gradual progress in reducing asset risk and bolstering capital and capital-equivalent reserves. To a large degree, the more positive assessment of RBG mirrors the BCA upgrades for the sector's two largest institutions, RBI and RLB OOE.

Moody's reassessment of RBG's financial strengths resulted in (1) higher rating uplift for affiliate support for one of the seven banks, i.e. RLB NOE; and (2) Moody's maintaining one notch of affiliate support for RBI, despite the upgrade of its BCA. Had Moody's not arrived at the more favourable assessment of RBG's combined financial strength, RBI's higher BCA would have resulted in an offsetting - and therefore neutralising - effect on that bank's ratings.

Moody's does not disclose the financial strength assessment of RBG, which is Austria's largest banking sector by assets and has a market share of around 30%.

STRONGER SUPPORT FOR RBI AND HIGHER SECTOR COHESION EFFECTIVELY RESTRICT THE RATINGS OF STRONGER BANKS

With today's action, Moody's raised its category for the probability of support available to RBI from the sector to "very high" from "high". This change takes account of RBI's formal inclusion, as a direct member, into the sector's federal Institutional Protection Scheme (IPS), and additionally considers the strong inter-linkages between RBI and the other member banks, given RBI's central treasury function for the sector. RBI's formal membership was triggered by its merger with the former central institution, Raiffeisen Zentralbank Oesterreich AG, in March 2017.

The resulting stronger cohesion within RBG also implies a higher correlation of risk between its members. While RBI can more firmly rely on the group's support, RBG's stronger support commitment effectively constrains member banks' standalone credit profiles. Moody's considerations of stronger sector cohesion therefore resulted in a closer alignment of banks' Adjusted BCAs in today's rating action, by allowing more rating uplift for intrinsically weaker banks, but also limiting the ratings of intrinsically stronger banks.

RATIONALE FOR RATING UPGRADES

Moody's upgraded RBI's long-term debt and deposit ratings to A3 from Baa1, and maintained the stable outlook on these ratings. The upgrade of RBI's long-term deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings to A3 follows the upgrade of the bank's BCA to ba1 from ba2 and the upgrade of its Adjusted BCA to baa3 from ba1. The baa3 Adjusted BCA incorporates "very high" affiliate support assumption from Austria's RBG, which was raised from "high" previously. All other input factors for the ratings remained unchanged, specifically (1) the result of Moody's Advanced Loss Given Failure (LGF) analysis which continues to indicate an extremely low loss-given-failure for senior creditors and deposits, therefore adding three notches of rating uplift from the adjusted BCA to the bank's senior debt and deposit ratings; and (2) a low probability of the bank receiving government support, resulting in no uplift.

Moody's upgraded RLB OOE's long-term debt and deposit ratings to Baa1 from Baa2, and maintained the stable outlook on these ratings. The upgrade reflects Moody's upgrade of the bank's BCA and Adjusted BCA to baa3 from ba1. The Adjusted BCA incorporates "very high" affiliate support assumption from Austria's RBG which, however, does not yield any support uplift. The other rating input factors remained unchanged, specifically (1) the result of Moody's LGF analysis which, based on the bank's liability profile as of year-end 2016, continues to indicate a very low loss-given-failure for senior creditors and deposits, therefore adding two notches of uplift to the banks' issuer, debt and deposit ratings; and (2) a low probability of the bank receiving government support, resulting in no uplift.

Moody's upgraded RLB NOE's long-term debt and deposit ratings to Baa1 from Baa2, and maintained the stable outlook on these ratings. The upgrade reflects higher rating uplift for affiliate support, which was raised to two notches from one notch previously, reflecting Moody's more favourable assessment of the sector's financial strength. The other rating input factors remained unchanged, specifically (1) the ba2 BCA; (2) the result of Moody's LGF analysis which, based on the bank's liability profile as of year-end 2016, continues to indicate a very low loss-given-failure for senior creditors and deposits, therefore adding two notches of uplift to the banks' issuer, senior debt and deposit ratings; and (3) a low probability of the bank receiving government support, resulting in no uplift.

RATIONALE FOR RATING AFFIRMATIONS

Moody's affirmed the Baa1/P-2 issuer and deposit ratings of the four smaller Raiffeisen Landesbanks, i.e., RVS, RLB Steiermark, RLB Tirol and RLB Vorarlberg. In all four cases, the affirmations followed the affirmation of their baa3 BCAs and Adjusted BCAs. In addition, Moody's left unchanged all other input factors for the four banks' ratings, i.e. (1) the result of Moody's LGF analysis which, based on the banks' liability profiles as of year-end 2016, continues to indicate a very low loss-given-failure for senior creditors and deposits, therefore adding two notches of uplift to the banks' issuer and deposit ratings; and (2) a low probability of the bank receiving government support, resulting in no uplift.

OUTLOOKS NOW STABLE FOR ALL RAIFFEISEN SECTOR BANKS

Moody's changed the outlook on the long-term ratings of RVS to stable from negative, and maintained the stable outlooks on the ratings of RBI, RLB NOE, RLB OOE, RLB Steiermark, RLB Tirol and RLB Vorarlberg. The stable outlooks reflects (1) Moody's expectations of a broadly stable development of the sector banks' fundamentals, and (2) rating constraints on the BCAs of the better-rated banks, relating to the substantial risk correlation between sector banks from their very high commitment to support each other.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATINGS UP/DOWN

The banks' long-term ratings could be upgraded following a combination of (1) an upgrade of any bank's BCA, and (2) Moody's more favourable assessment of the financial strengths of the sector as a whole. The latter could either result in (additional) uplift for affiliate support, or remove (or lower) the current restrictions on the highest BCAs assigned to member banks of the Raiffeisen sector.

The banks' BCAs could be upgraded following: (1) A reduction (or mitigation) of asset risk, including market risk; (2) a further strengthening of common equity levels, in particular if such an improvement also improves capital resources relative to the respective bank's exposure to equity investments; and (3) greater stability of profits for those banks whose profits have previously shown material volatility.

The banks' long-term ratings could be downgraded following (1) the downgrade of a bank's BCA; and/or (2) a lowering in Moody's assessment of RBG's combined financial strength and/or the sector's willingness to support its members.

The banks' BCAs could be downgraded due to: (1) Material set-backs in the banks' effort to contain asset risks, particularly for those banks that display risk concentrations and/or a dependence on RBI's profits for internal capital generation; (2) a failure to strengthen common equity levels, as applicable, in response to higher regulatory requirements; and/or (3) a material erosion of profits.

Furthermore, alterations in the banks' liability structure may change the amount of uplift resulting from Moody's Loss Given Failure analysis, and lead to a higher or lower notching from the banks' Adjusted BCAs, thereby affecting debt/issuer and deposit ratings.

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Banks published in September 2017. Please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series or category/class of debt or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the credit rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular credit rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.

For any affected securities or rated entities receiving direct credit support from the primary entity(ies) of this credit rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this credit rating action, the associated regulatory disclosures will be those of the guarantor entity. Exceptions to this approach exist for the following disclosures, if applicable to jurisdiction: Ancillary Services, Disclosure to rated entity, Disclosure from rated entity.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

The below contact information is provided for information purposes only. Please see the ratings tab of the issuer page at www.moodys.com, for each of the ratings covered, Moody's disclosures on the lead rating analyst and the Moody's legal entity that has issued the ratings.

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

Swen Metzler
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Deutschland GmbH
An der Welle 5
Frankfurt am Main 60322
Germany
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

Carola Schuler
MD - Banking
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Deutschland GmbH
An der Welle 5
Frankfurt am Main 60322
Germany
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

No Related Data.
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